Manchester City won the Treble with one of the smallest squads in European football, a feat that should not be quickly overlooked.

Part of his success in managing such a tightly-knit team has been the malleability of a number of players. John Stones, Bernardo Silva, Nathan Ake and Rico Lewis are just four examples of the versatile assets at his disposal.

Guardiola has built an ethos of keeping players in his side who are doing well. It eradicates any room for sulking given the mantra is if you play well you keep your place. It keeps those on the sidelines chomping at the bit for their moment to show they deserve to be in the team.

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It has also led to certain players keeping their levels of performance so high that they are essentially undroppable. Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland are three within this category.

For the rest, injuries provide an opportunity for others to step up - but then having such a small cohort means each setback is significant. When several come at once, Guardiola sees his squad stretched.

In the past he has been able to cope thanks to the versatile nature of his players. Eventually he finds a system. Last term, with Joao Cancelo leaving in January, he adopted a 3-2-4-1 formation that carried his team to three trophies.

There were initial teething problems with Bernardo Silva playing wing-back at one point and a draw with Nottingham Forest being a low ebb. But the tide soon turned with Stones growing into a remarkable centre-back-cum-midfielder.

Most players stayed fit during the crucial run-in, with all players available to choose from for the Champions League final, even if De Bruyne’s night did end early. He is one player definitely out of action heading into December and few others might be too.

In fact, City have eight more players who could miss Saturday’s clash with Liverpool with all of them doubts following a bruising international break. Rodri could be good to go given he featured in Spain’s latest win over Georgia while Ederson’s withdrawal from the Brazil squad was considered precautionary.

Erling Haaland was ruled out of Norway’s clash with Scotland but indications are he will be fine. However, the fitness of John Stones, Matheus Nunes, Mateo Kovacic, Nathan Ake and Sergio Gomez is unclear.

Beyond this weekend’s clash, City have a packed December schedule where up to nine games could potentially be played. They kick the month off at home to Tottenham before a midweek trip to Aston Villa.

Luton Town and Champions League opponents Red Star Belgrade follow before a home clash with Crystal Palace is the champions’ final game before jetting off for the Club World Cup in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Go all the way and City will play twice in the country before facing Everton at Goodison Park five days after the final. A home tie with Sheffield United concludes an historic 2023, showing that the schedule is rampant.

Guardiola has already called on players to stand up to UEFA and FIFA over the intense scheduling with the risk of burnout increasing and injuries getting more frequent. Even losing half of the eight doubts for a period of time after the Liverpool clash may be heavily detrimental.

That said, Guardiola has found a way through storms before and he would expect to do so again. However, this next month could show how sustainable having a small squad really is in a world where Club World Cup and Champions League expansions are on the horizon.